31.03.2020 in Book Report
Elements of Poetry

The poem “My California” by Lee Herrick and the song “California Love” by 2Pac feat Dr. Dre illustrate the speakers’ attitude towards California as a vital part of their lives. Both glorify the state but in different ways due to a distinctive perception. Herrick portrays California like the state of salvation which gives people new opportunities for living to experience freedom. 2Pac describes California through human desires for entertainment in reference to sex, money, and alcohol. These help anyone to define the nature of each individual who lacks morality. Thus, the essay compares the speakers’ position, imagery, and lineation to show prosperity of California that unites people by suggesting them a new path to a free life in the poem and segregates them in the song due to a variety of choices which bring harm to society. 

In the poem “My California,” Lee Herrick praises California as the place of peace and happiness as people from all over the world are equal in their rights and liberties. The speaker is apparently an immigrant who shares his personal impressions and sufferings based on precious but destructive memories. From the very beginning, he describes the state as a holy place indicating, “Here, an olive votive keeps the sunset lit”. This phrase means that nobody can destroy California, implying that there is one who protects the place and all inhabitants even if they are different in origin. It is evident that people in California have many possibilities due to the freedom they possess here. For instance, children make their choices, being able to finish schools. Others spend their free time discussing “the quality of wines” without any fear. Moreover, the speaker illustrates California with both passion and compassion while recollecting the history. He also mentions the presence of Koreans who have the right to speak in public and discuss their views as nobody limits them. Eventually, independence masters the surrounding in every nook, and people do not need to pretend and may demonstrate who they are indeed.   


California allows the speaker to introduce his identity while demonstrating his love to the state and humanity to those who surround him. The words “Here, in my California, the streets remember the Chicano/ poet whose songs still bank off Fresno’s beer soaked gutters” show that the narrator values the past. The man is still keeping in mind numerous hardships he and other people were forced to encounter. Therefore, he uses “My California” as an integral part of his life.  He cannot imagine his existence without California because he managed to find salvation exactly in this place. The narrator also glorifies the Chicano poet’s songs and his eternal description of Fresno’s beer, which also reflect the past. In fact, these moments contain something special, and that is why the speaker values them as a precious reminder of the previous life he started in California many years ago. Additionally, he notices the beauty of nature saying, “and almond trees in partial bloom”. This line emphasizes that the man adores the state for its warmth and sincerity, and spring will remain in his heart forever. Thus, the speaker expresses his true feelings and a kind attitude towards California portrayed as an object of adoration, which reveals his nature.

California is represented through the use of different images which help the speaker to illustrate a variety of objects. In fact, the man initially hints at them but without providing many colors in description. For example, such images as “sunset,” “trees,” and “sun” contribute to the creation of warmth and allow anyone to feel the beauty of the environment. Perhaps, “the sunset” has a metaphorical meaning as it is associated with life and death at the same time. Particularly, the sun might be a symbol of life. When the sun rises, it gives people hope for a better future – the future without strikes and wars. Moreover, the man does not say anything about the taste of the wine, but his phrase “the quality of wines” makes the reader imagine its incredible taste and smell. The point is that the word “quality” reinforces the taste and price, and therefore, it causes an irresistible desire to drink the best wine produced in California. Additionally, the lines “on the ledge of the pregnant/ twenty-second century…” reveal the metaphor which means the richness and comfort society might experience in the nearest future. Lastly, “free songs” performed by parents and poets compose non-existent sounds, and one might even hear them among freedom and peace in California. 

Each line plays a significant role as it sets a specific pace which might help anyone to hear a particular tune. The entire poem consists of twenty-seven lines, and every two lines are composed together. They usually demonstrate a completed idea of the speaker and his impressions of the life in California and the way people might enjoy freedom. Even though there is neither rhyme nor regular beat, each couple of the lines compels the reader to realize its sense. Moreover, some lines are shorter than others, but all of them seem to be quite long. One may assume that the length is also vital as it emphasizes the hidden implication of the poem. Overall, the most interesting issue is that the author makes a pause exactly in that place where it is necessary to complete thoughts and start new ones.

In the poem “California Love” by 2Pac feat Dr. Dre, the speaker also praises California, but he represents the modern state with already changed moral and spiritual values. The first line “California…knows how to party” shows that the life in California is like an everlasting holiday. In contrast to the previous narrator, the man focuses on those things which might satisfy all people who long for entertainment. The words “Pack a vest for your Jimmy in the city of sex/ We in that sunshine state where that bomb ass hemp be” portray California as the place with new views and actions because a considerable part of people seek nothing more than sex, alcohol, and money. Certainly, the speaker mentions different cities which have no wars, but singing and dancing have another meaning. They have nothing in common with the poet’s songs in “My California.” Unfortunately, the speaker perceives California through the prism of human instincts based on intimacy and wealth which destroy society as people lack morality. Thus, California is just his obsession because it removes all visible and invisible boundaries by giving too much unnecessary freedom. 

Music is one of the most important aspects of the imaginary representation of California and people who live there. While reading each line, one may hear loud sounds during an endless party. As a result, such music directs a young generation to a wrong path as all of them are interested in dancing and singing. Undoubtedly, in contrast to the inhabitants described in “My California,” these people neglect human virtues, being concentrated on killing pleasures and joys. Such tendency means that music allows anyone to understand the nature of the contemporary society. Moreover, the words “Soon as I stepped on the scene, I’m hearin hoochies screamin/ Fiendin for money and alcohol” give a chance to immerse into the party when every participant drinks and does not control his/ her actions. If a usual passer-by tastes alcohol, he or she does not feel anything more than its bitterness. However, people at the party long for the taste of alcohol which seems incredible. Therefore, they need to drink more and more, being dependent on its destructive force. On the other hand, the lines “A state that’s untouchable like Elliot Ness” contain a meaningful metaphor which introduces California through the eternity. It has also simile according to which the speaker compares California with an American agent who constantly succeeded in his assignments. 

The structure of the song “California Love” differs from “My California” in the representation of the lines, rhyme, and sounds. The song is longer than the poem, and each line has its sense as a precise hint of the next action or event reflected in the line. There are many repetitions including the word “California,” and some lines sound twice or even three times. It is clear that every repetition is used to convey the sense of the hidden truth referred to the inevitability of reality. It seems that some lines live another life, despite the fact that they depict California with its brightness. The presence of rhyme creates a certain rhythm, and therefore, it might have a powerful impact on the listener. Lastly, the words “citaaay,” “sassoon,” “Californ-I-a,” and others have the prolonged sounds which attract one’s attention and make each person penetrate the context of the song. 

In conclusion, “My California” by Lee Herrick and “California Love” by 2Pac feat Dr. Dre are incredible artworks which represent the life in California and the speakers’ feelings to the state. Even though both adore this place, they value different aspects of life in California, and therefore, their priorities refer either to peace and freedom or to human pleasures which just satisfy people’s desires based on instincts. Undoubtedly, the speakers’ views, imagery, and lineation allow anyone to realize the atmosphere which rules in the state even if the entire picture is associated either with high morality and or with the degradation of the society.

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